What happens during the closed season?

It has been a very cold Winter season at Snowshill

It has been a very cold Winter season at Snowshill

All this beautiful Spring sunshine has encouraged us to reflect on what has been a busy and productive winter this year at the Manor.

Normally we start the winter clean in an upstairs room and work down or in a downstairs room and work up in a rather methodical manner that has been planned by the team. This season challenged that and many of our other normal processes.

Turquoise is ready for some repair works  to start

Turquoise is ready for some repair works to start

We started the season with a great team effort to clean Zenith and empty Turquoise ready for the building work to start. In just four days all the objects had been cleaned and Zenith was packed full of furniture, even more than it normally is! After that we moved upstairs to 100 wheels, this room was cleaned so we could use it to store the items from Mermaid and Seventh Heaven which were also being plastered and painted. Nothing was where you would expect it to be! As a result of all these changes a lot of time was spent on the paperwork aspect of the conservation work we do. As well as movement records we also had a great push this year on writing and updating many more condition reports. These are the reports we hold for each individual object and we use these to record any damage or significant treatment that is relevant to that object. It is a lot easier to keep on top of this work when you have a small collection, as we have 22,000 we have some catching up to do.

Filling in condition reports

Filling in condition reports

We came across many problems this year that slowed down the cleaning process. Namely insect activity. Woodworm and death watch beetle have been busy. Each object has been treated but as this is a lengthy process which often involves delicate and detailed work which has had an impact on our schedule. Rodents also caused some drama when volunteer Jackie had to rescue a hysterical Vicki when she found a mummified shrew! There was also drama when one of the legs on the welsh dresser in Ann’s room fell off. One of Mr Wade’s repairs hadn’t lasted as long as he would have liked!

Woodworm activity at the base of a chest in Ann's Room. It is very important to check underneath objects, you never know what might be hiding there

Woodworm activity at the base of a chest in Ann’s Room. It is very important to check underneath objects, you never know what might be hiding there

This year we have seen our conservation team grow, not just with our new staff members (look out for relevant blog posts) but with the number of volunteers that assist us during the winter. Following the success of our first conservation training day in October we held another in January and we now have a much larger team of trained volunteers helping us with the cleaning. These volunteers will also be helping us to clean during the open season in the mornings and with conservation in action demonstrations. We are very grateful to the work Alex and Harriet did during Harriet’s internship last year that has made this training possible.

Training in action

Training in action

The staff have also been continuing their own development this Winter. Alex attend the NT’s House Keeping Study Days in January (see relevant post).In November we travelled to Bristol for an introduction to working with scientific and industrial collections course and we returned in January to learn more about caring for costume collections  (see relevant post). We also had an onsite training day with our Collections Registrar who came to show us how to inventory mark correctly. We will be incorporating this into our inventory checks and conservation in action demonstrations this year.

We used plates from the office kitchen to test our inventory marking skills. Some might still be marked!

We used plates from the office kitchen to test our inventory marking skills. Some might still be marked!

We had the first of our visiting conservators arrive in February. Mike Flannery returned to look at our clock collection. He has taken the wooden clock from the old stairs back to his workshop for a proper looking after as it’s a bit tricky to see properly while hanging over the old stairs bannister. He is also looking into a new hanging system for the clock in Mizzen.

This wooden clock is very difficult to reach so our clock conservator is doing an indepth clean in his workshop and not at the top of a stairwell.

This wooden clock is very difficult to reach so our clock conservator is doing an indepth clean in his workshop and not at the top of a stairwell.

We also started looking at how we will be cleaning the Manor if our opening hours change. This has involved rewriting all of our cleaning task lists and looking at how the tasks are completed. You will certainly be seeing more of the cleaning team as we start to do more demonstrations and clean barrier rooms such as Top Royal in front of the visitors. It is going to be an exciting year ahead.

Ann's Room protected from the dust

Ann’s Room protected from the dust

Spinning wheels in Top Gallant protected from the dust

Spinning wheels in Top Gallant protected from the dust

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One thought on “What happens during the closed season?

  1. Very interesting. I suppose many people don’t realise how much work has to be done during the closed season.

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